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Mannaja ()

directed by
featuring Donald O'Brien, John Steiner, Martine Brochard, Maurizio Merli, Philippe Leroy

Despite coming along fairly late in the cycle, this spaghetti western is one of the genre's best. Maurizio Merli plays Blade, a bounty hunter who captures outlaw Burt Craven (Donald O'Brien) by throwing his hatchet and chopping off Craven's hand. In the nearby town of Suttonstead, Blade wins a poker game against Voller (Caligula's John Steiner), and -- because he can't get a reward for Craven -- frees his captive. Later, Voller ambushes Blade in the wilderness, burying him up to his neck and sewing his eyelids open so his eyes will be burnt out by the sun. Craven discovers Blade and repays his freedom by saving the now-blinded gunman, who learns to shoot by sound rather than sight. The conclusion has Blade getting his revenge in a dark silver mine, where he has the advantage against Voller and his men. Director Sergio Martino is best known for stylish thrillers and uses his considerable visual style to give this violent, grandiose film an almost mythical resonance. Fans of gritty realism in spaghetti westerns may not relate to Martino's flamboyant style, but most Euro-devotees will find it immensely appealing. Martine Brochard, Rik Battaglia, and Philippe Leroy co-star. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi Hide synopsis

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